Comments

1
i loved that book so much in high school. i agree that the entire point was that he made terrible decisions though. i never saw the movie but it definitely appears that penn bastardized the point of the book.
2
Stupid fucking Sean Penn is a Stupid fucking Faggot.
3
l2smokemoose.

or better yet, l2notcrossdangerousrivers.
4
if alaska doesn't kill you, the alcoholics with guns might. the kid didn't stand a chance.
5
I think blaming Sean Penn for that girl's death is pretty irresponsible. Her death was her own fault. Blaming Sean Penn is like holding a razor company responsible for the stupid kids who cut themselves for attention.

Hate the dude all you want, but trying to pin the girl's death on him is pretty weak logic.
6
i never read the book, only saw the movie, and i thought it was pretty clear he made some really dumb mistakes and paid for them with his life. it's definitely got a hollywood sheen to it, but i don't think it lets the kid off the hook for his stupidity.
7
Four months is almost immediately?

Whether Penn missed the point of the book is irrelevant. The guy DIED. If these adventurers are too dumb to figure out that they're at high risk of suffering the same fate, that's on them. And isn't the river she fell into the one that stranded McCandless in the wilderness even when he was ready to leave?
8
The bus is located just outside of Fairbanks. It was crazy close to town and people in the town knew this guy was living in that bus. It isn't like he died in some extremely remote wilderness.
9
The movie and the book had me rooting for the poison berries.
10
man seattle hates hippies. yes, the movie was glossy and shallow.
11
I felt terribly old when I watched that movie. I felt like I should be rooting for him with his independent spirit and his desire for self-reliance (especially given how much the movie glorified him), but really I just couldn't stop thinking about how stupid and impractical the kid was.

He burns his cash in some sort of ridiculous, cliched statement and then spends the next however many months working to get enough money to get to Alaska. He thinks Alaska will somehow solve all of his problems and he will be happy there (his life will be better only when he gets to Alaska). He doesn't make that much of an effort to prepare or learn what he needs to know in order to survive... eh. I didn't love the movie but at least Emile Hirsch was kind of hot.
12
They put a Hollywood shine on this kid? Really? I'd never read the book, but my wife loved it, so she insisted I watch it with her. While we were watching the movie, about every five minutes I kept thinking, "God, what a little shit this kid is. He has everything a person could want, and he pisses it all away."

I couldn't stop laughing as he was dying from the poisoned berries, because that was exactly what I expected to happen. Privileged urban idiot decides to live off the land, and dies because he's too dumb to know how lacking in wilderness knowledge he is. (My wife did not appreciate the cackles.)
13
Two words:

Recursive Darwinism
14
Shortly after he moved to Alaska, his problems came to end. Sorted!
15
@8,

130 miles is crazy close?

I thought McCandless was (largely) an entitled shit who learned a fatal lesson in humility, so I don't get how the movie supposedly glamorized him. I haven't even read the book.
16
Wait, what? So now every time some impressionable moron gets a dumb idea from any movie, we can blame the director for the moron's death? People are no longer responsible for their own actions?

Okaaayyy...
17
Since when is a 29 year old a "kid?"

And spare me the won't-anyone-think-of-the-children reasoning behind this post.
18
paul is grumpy because the full moon is pending.
19
Um, Paul. WTF?

The movie portrayed the McCandless as an idealistic and naive kid who died a stupid and unnecessary death. I don't see how anyone could walk away from that movie thinking he was a hero.
20
The movie makes it sound like he just fucked up and ate the wrong kind of berry, but there isn't any evidence of that. The evidence points to the fact that he just simply starved to death because he didn't have enough food.

Also, at the point where he decided to leave, if he'd walked down the river about a mile it would have been cross-able, and if he'd headed in the opposite direction from his bus there was a logging road not too far away.

But he didn't have a map, because he was a fucking idiot.
21
ooo media forces people to do things they otherwise wouldn;t! does this mean that Judas Priest really was responsible for the death of Raymond Belknap?
22
So was Claire a fan of the book or the movie?
23
so she traveled to Alaska from Switzerland

You didn't point out that she wasn't traveling alone. At least she took that precaution.
25
Hear hear, Paul. I've been saying this ever since the movie came out. Sean Penn did not do an adequate job of conveying that this was just a dumb kid who did something really stupid and died because of it. Maybe it was all the soaring Eddie Vedder tracks or something, but I definitely walked out of the theater feeling like there was something we were supposed to admire about Christopher McCandless. Or maybe the simple answer is that movies need heroes, not ignorant dipshits who get themselves killed.

My sister lives a few miles from where this all happened (a bunch of her friends got seasonal work helping out with the movie filming). The locals up there have zero sympathy for wild-eyed hippie sorts who periodically head out on Christopher McCandless vision quests to find the bus, and the movie probably made this a much more common occurance. Much in the same sort of way that locals around Katmai National Park don't have much sympathy for Timothy Treadwell (aka Grizzly Man).

If you spend enough time in the Alaskan wilderness and don't know what you're doing, the place WILL kick your ass.
26
Sean Penn is so dumb that he didn't know that Trey Parker and Matt Stone weren't democrats
27
I always though ITW was an example of a lost form of literature: the tragic hero. What makes the hero stand out & special is also the thing that dooms him in the end. The guy wanted to live a life of freedom, far beyond anything most people will demonstrate. Sure, free to speak, free to marry, blah blah blah, but what about freedom from money, freedom from cars, freedom from the endless amounts of stuff we fill our lives with. That's the sort of freedom McCandless wanted. But that urge was also his undoing-- as both the book & film show, he was searching for freedom beyond other humans, and he found it. He didn't do the sorts of things that would have kept him alive, like having a map of the area, or knowing how to eat off the land in Alaska, because that knowledge came from the very humans he wanted to get away from.

There's far more catharsis in these sorts of literary heroes than the the super heroes we're given today. Their flaws are more like nagging wives, something to give flavor to the ass-kicking & explosions. And while I call McCandless a hero, I'm not interested in emulating him for his is a cautionary tale-- the search for freedom can be liberating, but it's extremely dangerous. And the mistakes you'll make will come from the character of your desire for that freedom. The desire to be apart from your fellow humans is not the same as the desire for freedom.
28
I'm really wondering if anyone here actually read the book, including the end. Chris McCandless, for all his faults, did not die from a lack of preparation, nor did he die from eating "poison berries." Chris was actually doing pretty well for himself through the winter, hunting and foraging. There were a few bad miscalculations which did him in.

One: he did not realize how completely inaccessible that area is in spring, when the Teklanika is in flood. It's a very different river in April from what it is in August, or when it's frozen. Once he was in, he could not get out until the river dropped again, and he did not live long enough, because:

Two: he mistook one particular type of seed for another. The two plants look EXTREMELY similar: one is entirely edible, and the other has the unfortunate effect of essentially robbing the body of nutrients altogether. He starved to death while he had food. He had actually figured that out shortly before he died, but was too weak to do anything about it at that point.

Three: he did not know about a couple of ways to cross the river (basically ziplines), nor about a couple of cabins in the area which were stocked with food. He was blamed after his death for the vandalism of one of the cabins, but there is zero evidence that he had anything to do with it.

McCandless was a flake, a dingbat, and a yo-yo. But he was actually quite well prepared for his trip into the wild, and if not for those miscalculations, he'd have walked out in late spring as per his original plan, and no one would have any idea he ever existed. He was not stupid, he was not a kid. He was not a hero. Sean Penn only used McCandless as an archetype: anyone who thinks he was setting him up as some kind of ideal to emulate doesn't understand the idea of the heroic archetype at all.

And Ackermann made a damn stupid mistake. If I got one thing from Krakauer's book (which I happen to think is brilliant), it's that the fucking Teklanika is dangerous and should be treated with great respect.
29
Can we lay the blame at the feet of the person who truly deserves it? HENRY DAVID THOREAU! FUCK WALDEN!
30
Typing angrily about this topic from our seats parked in front of our computers is one of the most tragically "meta" conversations ever

31
# 28 for the win. Well put Geni.

I liked the book and liked the movie and loved the soundtrack.

cheers
32
@27. Yes, tragic hero.
And @28 and others who loved Krakauer's book: this may be interesting
http://www.terraincognitafilms.com/wild/…
(it proposes an alternative hypothesis that McCandless starved to death over a long period of time, based on his caloric intake and energy expenditure projections). Personally, I love Krakauer's prose and his choice of subject-matters, but he's been known to stir controversy (see, for example, Into Thin Air, and then talk to climbers, or talk to climbers first) and his account of things isn't always the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
33
Nobodies making movies for the hell of it. At least not Hollywood. You have to make money so you better jazz it up!
34
1 can always tell an am writer if he starts a pgh with a number...

29 for example
35
Dick Proenneke from "Alone in the Wilderness" is a guy who did it the right way.
36
Movies make people do things. Everyone knows this. Stupid fucking movie makers.
37
@31: the soundtrack was the WORST PART.

It's all about My Side of the Mountain, anyway.
38
Funny, I haven't read the book, but I seem to have gotten the point of it from the movie. I really don't think he was portrayed as a hero or a saint. It was more a portrait of a naive and idealistic kid who thought too much of himself and learned humility too late. His demise was inevitable, and it wouldn't have been a useful story if he had survived. I think people who are used to seeing protagonists as heros won't like the movie. It worked for me.
39
I read a different book and saw a different movie than Constant did. I thought both did a pretty good job of not rendering judgment on McCandless, neither castigating him for his rashness nor idealizing his bravery. In fact, Krakauer devoted an entire passage to saying that McCandless was not naive - he survived a good long while. But both the movie and the book are pretty clear on this point: he died. The movie also has a scene ackermann must have missed where McCandless almost gets swept away in the river.

I don't think Sean Penn is to blame. Scratch that - I KNOW he's not to blame. Stupid Paul constant. Stupid fucking Paul constant.
40
Wow. I am SO GLAD I never read this book or saw the movie, because (a) it doesn't look like either one of them was very good, and (b) they might have forced me to go to Alaska and die in some stupid way.
41
The thing that cracked me up about the movie was the field guide that he used to forage for food - which they show in detail on screen. You'd think the entry for the edible berry would say in big block letters, "By the way, don't confuse this with the nearly identical poison berry on the very next page."
42
great book and movie. No shortage of hate and contempt for a young man attempting something different. Heaven for bid that he do something hard. As for the emulator from Switzerland I have some sympathy but not a ton cause she obviously missed the point of him not being prepared, which lead to his downfall. She should have learned from his mistake. Either way its still a bummer that the girl and McCandless died.

Also the soundtrack was dope.
43
Claire didn't read the book "into the wild". She was a fan of nature and wildness. She wanted to see the world in two years and started her trip in Alaska. She was in Denali park to see animals and nature. She followed her french friend to see this bus. So it wasn't her idea. Please, don't write lies.

Please wait...

Comments are closed.

Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.


Add a comment
Preview

By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.